The success of the next census will rely on a comprehensive understanding of user needs and concerns, as well as the support and participation of the general public. To support this, we will formally consult from time to time and details will be provided below.

Scotland’s Census 2021 question testing conducted by ScotCen Social Research – September 2019

NRS has committed to carrying out further testing around the sex question and guidance. We have asked ScotCen Social Research to conduct a survey to test questions that may be included in Scotland’s Census 2021. The aim of the survey is to see whether these questions are acceptable, easy to complete and produce reliable data.

From 18 September around 6,500 randomly selected addresses in Scotland will receive an invitation letter from ScotCen to take part in this study. Trans and non-binary people are also being recruited separately to take part in this testing. Taking part will involve completing a short online questionnaire.

All information provided will be treated in strict confidence under the Data Protection Act 2018.

If you have received an invitation letter, please follow the instructions and complete the questionnaire. This is your chance to tell us what you think.

If you have any questions about the questionnaire, you can contact the ScotCen office by email or by calling free on 0800 652 0501.

Any media enquiries should be sent to

Open consultations

Census Outputs Research Approach

National Records of Scotland (NRS) is committed to listening to and understanding feedback from our stakeholders in the design and development of the 2021 census. Further to previous engagement with users of the Scotland’s Census website in 2018 and 2019, NRS are now working alongside Storm ID to further explore the needs and requirements of our users for the new Census outputs website. People are at the heart of this work, and we want to better understand how the site is being used now to help us create an improved outputs website service for our users.

Our approach to research and design will align with the Scottish Government’s Digital Scotland Service Standard. This means we will be engaging with existing users of the site through various user research activities. To do so effectively, we are following a four phase research and design process which will allow our users to share their views at every step, ensuring we are designing with our users, not for them.

During the first phase (Discovery), we are looking to engage with people who currently use census data as part of their job in the public or third sector, as well as members of the public who have used census data for personal use. Following industry best practice for user research, an incentive of £50 will be offered to members of the public who participate, in exchange for their time and contribution. Those who participate in a professional capacity will be asked to do so during their normal working day.

During the second (Alpha) and third (Beta) phases to follow, we will also be engaging with people who work in the private sector who use census data as part of their job.

Get involved – February 2020!

At present, we are looking to run focus groups with those who work in the public and third sectors and have an interest in Census data as part of their job. The focus groups will run for a maximum of 2 hours and will be limited to a maximum of nine participants per session. These sessions will take place at Storm ID’s office in Leith.

For those interested in participating in research who are unable to travel to Edinburgh, we will also be looking for people who would be willing to participate in usability testing. These sessions give us an opportunity to test and validate our early designs by looking at how intuitive our prototype is, so we can iterate and improve. Usability tests can be run remotely, so will be open to participants from across Scotland.

If you are interested in participating or would like to find out more, please contact

Members of the general public will be recruited via People for Research.

Please note: This research is not open to participants who are employed by National Records of Scotland at this time. We will be recruiting participants for a variety of different research activities on an ongoing basis. Research during Alpha is likely to take place during May, at which time we will update the criteria for participants to get involved.

Closed consultations and results

Topic Consultation

This consultation ran between 8 October 2015 and 15 January 2016 and sought views on the topics that users felt should be included in the next census. 

The Topic Consultation Report (published 15 August 2016) provides further information outlining our response and intended next steps.

The consultation was conducted using Citizen Space and a variety of supporting documents from the consultation are available below:

We held three public consultation events in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh in November 2015 to support the consultation. More information on these events can be found on the Events and workshops section.